An Overview – Part 4 of 6

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By R Carter

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

All this has happened before but it doesn’t have to happen again.

I come at this with twenty seven years as a healthcare provider in anesthesia, having worked in a large group practice as well as an independent provider in rural community hospitals. That is until an injury forced me out of healthcare and into the ranks of a chronic pain patient. Such a background has given me an opportunity to view the issues first hand, from two unique and sometimes opposing perspectives. Beholding to no one other than my own experiences, my views are admittedly more supportive of patients and providers than they are of business, industry and government.

America’s opiate crisis actually goes back one hundred and fifty years; see New York Times, “America’s 150-Year Opioid Epidemic” to 1877 when a Seattle newspaper wrote an article titled “A Beautiful Opium Eater”, about the life and death of a socialite named Ella Henderson. This detailed account is strikingly similar to those stories we hear today, with doctors turning a blind eye to the consequences of prescribing opiates indiscriminately. Ella was one of thousands who lost their lives to addiction between 1870 and 1920.

With the introduction of the hypodermic needle in the late nineteen hundreds and driven by a profit motivation, doctors prescribed morphine for nearly any type of aliment, thus ensuring a steady flow of returning customers for their services. Back then as today, the inevitable occurs, doctors abandon their patients when they can no longer pay or the patient’s behavior puts the doctor at risk. Society then judges, shames and shuns the individual and they are left to die, abandoned and alone. The same shamming judgments are made publicly by anonymous sources in social media today. It would seem that over the last one hundred and fifty years, morally and ethically, society has made only modest progress.

What has evolved is our technology, which allows the same things to occur on a far larger scale, see “Feds charge 5 New York doctors with prescribing 8.5 million opioid pills“. There is one saving grace for society, we are better educated, there are more who have learned from past mistakes who are desperately trying to educate others on a better way to solve such problems.

This site will examine a variety of topics but its primary purpose is to be a survival guide for chronic pain patients. How to navigate a world caught up in an opiate crisis, wearing blinders to any concerns other than its own and sometimes hell bent on using and consuming you for the financial resources you represent.

Topics will include medical research, standards of care, government policy, regulations and guidelines, civil, ethical and HIPAA rights, physician rights, business and industry as it relates to these topics, always with a goal of discovering truths which improve access to healthcare and better treatments for chronic pain suffers. The author will attempt to replace irrational fears. bias and prejudices with rational judgments based on the best medical science we have.

It will be about citizens, who through no fault of their own, have an injury, disease or condition severe enough, that it requires opiates in order to restore functionality and God willing, a return to gainful employment. And it will be about education, keeping chronic pain patients informed about their rights and steps they can take to improve access to quality healthcare.

The intent is to put a human face on how our collective denial and unconscious bias which has in some ways, created a double standard, one where a nation, on one hand can liberalize the use of cannabis and on the other hand, restricts access to opiates for those with legitimate medical needs. It will examine concepts such as unconscious bias and privilege, challenging readers to examine long held beliefs while encouraging open mindedness, civility and finding common ground. It will examine how our current system encourages civil and HIPAA right violations while providing little support in correcting such issues. Finally it will endeavor to engage the healthcare community in a discussion of physician rights and pro-physician issues that will help return the practice of medicine back to doctors rather than state governments.

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